Mango Farming In Kenya: How To Grow The Best Mangoes For Export

State of mango farming in Kenya

Mango is one of the most loved fruits in Kenya. Due to its popularity, it feels very much like a local fruit that has been here since the beginning of time but it will surprise you to know that it is an exotic fruit just like apples.  Mangoes originally came from South Asia.

Mango farming: Mangoes originated from Asia

In Kenya, mangoes are mostly farmed in the Eastern and Coastal regions. The fruits are mostly consumed fresh. However, processing of mango juice is also becoming a major business led by Makueni county which has a big processing factory that buys fruits from local farmers.

Mango farming in Embu, Kenya

Mango tree special characteristics

Mango trees have a deep tap root and wide spread lateral roots. This is a special feature that makes it possible for the trees to grow and give high yield even in semi-arid regions.

Mango trees produce beautiful pink leaves that turn into deep red colour and finally green when mature. The leaves remail ever green.

The trees can grow wide and tall, reaching over 10 metres wide and 25 metres high. However, grafting has made it possible to have short trees that mature early and start giving fruits in the second year. 

Grafted mango trees: Dwarf and fast maturing

Best areas for mango farming in Kenya

Mangoes grow well in the hot lowlands of the coastal strip (Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River and Lamu) and the upper midlands such as lower Murang’a, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Embu and Meru and the entire Ukambani region of Machakos, Kitui and Makueni. The lower parts of Baringo, Narok and Kajiado are also ideal for mango farming and some farmers in these regions have already been very successful in it. 

Mango farming in Kisaju Kajiado, Kenya

In order to grow well and produce high yields, mangoes need the following climatic and soil conditions:


Mango farming is best done in areas that experience average temperatures of between 15 and 30 ˚C. In cooler highlands, the trees grow but do not produce as much as trees in hot area. The fruits produced in cooler areas also have low sugar content. 


The best mango yields are achieved in areas with annual rainfall ranging from 800 to 1000 mm. However, due it their rooting system, mango trees can tolerate drought conditions when they fully develop. 

When grown under the rain-fed system, mango trees will generally have 2 seasons that follow the rain patterns. However, it is possible to achieve continuous mango fruiting under irrigation.   


Fertile, well drained sandy loam soils of pH 5.5 to 7.5 (slightly acidic) and at least 3 metres depth are the best for mango farming. However, the trees are hardy and adopt to many different types of soils.

The best mango varieties in Kenya

The best mango varieties to farm in Kenya are Apple mango, Tommy Atkins, Kent and Ngowe.

Apple mango

This is the most loved mango variety not only in Kenya but also across the world. It is so loved because of its deep flavour and sweetness. 

Apple mango variety has medium to large sized fruits with a smooth, rich yellow or orange skin when ripe. It is round in shape, has a small seed and very sweet flesh with no fibres. It also has good keeping quality and this is why it has become an important mango variety for export. 

Apple Mango: The best variety in the world

Apple mangoes are widely grown in Ukambani areas especially Machakos and Makueni. However, it can grow very well in any part of the country where the climate and soil is suitable for mango farming as explained above.

This is the variety you will find selling in the best supermarkets in Kenya. There are also traders who sell apple mangoes along Mombasa road when they are in season. It is also very suitable for processing and accounts for the largest part of the mangoes that are processed into juice by Delmonte and the Makueni County government processing plant. 

Tommy Atkins

The Tommy Atkins mango variety has medium to large sized fruits, mostly of an oval shape. The fruits have a smooth skin that is green in colour and having an attractive deep red blush. The dominant green colour may change to yellow or orange when the fruit ripens. The flesh is firm, deep yellow in colour when ripe, has some fibres and is mildly sweet.

Tommy Atkins Mango Variety

Tommy Atkins has two outstanding characteristics that make it a very important commercial mango variety: 1, it has a very long shelf life and 2, it is very tolerant to handling and transportation. This meaning it can go through the entire packaging and transportation process and reach the export destination looking attractive and without ugly bruises or other physical damages.

Farmers in Kenya love the Tommy Atkins variety for its high resistance to common fungal diseases that attack other mango varieties. It is also very productive, giving the highest yield among all mango varieties grown in Kenya. Farmers who grow it under irrigation are also able to produce throughout the year with peak seasons coming in December to January. 


The Kent mango is a variety of mango that is known for its sweet and rich flavour, as well as its firm and fibrous texture. It is a large mango, typically weighing between 0.5 and 0.9 kgs. 

The skin of a Kent mango is dark green when unripe and turns yellow when ripe. The flesh is a deep orange colour and is very juicy. The seed in the centre of the fruit is relatively small compared to the size of the fruit. 

The Kent mango is a relatively late-season variety, typically ripening over a month after other varieties. It is considered to be one of the best-tasting varieties of mango and is commonly used for eating fresh or for making juice, jams, and other preserves. It is also a good choice for canning and freezing. 


The Ngowe mango variety is a type of mango that is grown primarily in East and Central Kenya. It is known for its large size and round shape, and it has a yellow-orange colour when ripe. 

The flesh of the Ngowe mango is also sweet and juicy, and it has a small seed in the center. It is typically harvested between June and August. The tree is a large and vigorous grower, and it can bear fruit in 3-5 years. The fruit is known for its good taste, and it is used in various forms, such as fresh, dried, and canned.

Nutritional value of Mangoes

Mangoes are an important source of vitamin A, B6 and C. They also contain other important minerals especially iron, calcium and potassium. They are an important source of dietary fibre and enzymes that help in digestion. 


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